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Canada Busts Notorious Swordfish Killer

Finally, Canada has shown they are capable of enemy identification with the arrest last week of notorious swordfish killer, and now poacher, Linda Greenlaw.

Linda Greenlaw

The New England based Greenlaw is famous for being portrayed in the movie Perfect Storm by Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio. She is also famous for diminishing swordfish populations in the North Atlantic and for attacking conservation efforts to protect swordfish.

Greenlaw left the port of Fairhaven, Mass on September 16 with the 67-foot longliner Sea Hawk.  Accompanying her was a film crew from Original Productions of Burbank, California doing a television series on swordfishing.

Canadian Department of Fisheries (DFO) spokesman Sam Whiffen said that surveillance aircraft spotted Sea Hawk on Sept. 23, engaged in actively targeting swordfish inside Canadian territorial waters. DFO officers from the Canadian Coast Guard ship Cygnus boarded the fishing boat and placed Greenlaw under arrest.

Apparently. Greenlaw could not find any swordfish in the waters she has plundered for the last two decades.

According to The Ellsworth American, on October 2nd, 2008:

The 210-foot Cygnus escorted Sea Hawk into St. John's, Newfoundland, early on Friday. Greeted by a hoard of media, a handcuffed Greenlaw later appeared in the Provincial Court on charges of violating Canada's Coastal Fisheries Protection Act. She was released on $10,000 (Canadian) cash bail, and ordered to return to court on October 27. The Sea Hawk and its catch of swordfish were released on $55,000 bond, and reported sailed for Fairhaven (United States)...

According to published reports, the Original Productions crew was filming for a reality series to be shown on NBC television. Original is the creator and producer of the popular television series about the Bering Sea crab fishery, "Deadliest Catch."

"I hope that the film crew captured her poaching activities on film and that the program they are working on will illustrate the diminishment of the swordfish populations in the Northern Atlantic," said Sea Shepherd Conservation Society Executive Director Kim McCoy.

Sea Shepherd is happy to see Canada actually pursuing poachers instead of wasting so many millions of tax-dollars trying to keep conservationists from witnessing and documenting the slaughter of Harp seals. In April, Sea Shepherd Captain Alex Cornelissen of the Netherlands and 1st Officer Peter Hammarstedt of Sweden were arrested on board the Sea Shepherd ship Farley Mowat for violating the "Seal Protection Act" by witnessing the slaughter of the seals. In Canada it is a crime to witness or document a seal being killed. The penalty is up to a year in jail and over $100,000 in fines.

It will be interesting to see how the two cases compare. Both were released under a $10,000 bond. Linda Greenlaw has already had her vessel returned to her but the Farley Mowat remains under seizure in Sydney, Nova Scotia until the trial sometime in April 2009.

Strangely, there is a Sea Shepherd connection with the Perfect Storm story.  Karen Stimpson, who served as Sea Shepherd 2nd Mate in 1986, was later crewing on a yacht caught in the infamous storm and was rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard, an incident portrayed in the movie and detailed in the book by Sebastian Junger.

"Linda Greenlaw is an example of the destructive mentality that views oceanic eco-systems as something to be looted and destroyed," said Captain Paul Watson. "She is a swordfish serial killer and an environmental terrorist whose greed and ecological ignorance has been legendary."

When Boston's top chefs voluntarily decided to not serve endangered swordfish, it was Greenlaw, using her celebrity status, who attacked them and told them to mind their own business. Of course the chefs were indeed minding their own business, but Greenlaw is more inclined to attack and appears to be arrogantly unconcerned for the future of the swordfish species.

"She wallows in her macho reputation as a tough fishing woman who loves to slaughter these magnificent aquatic predators," said Captain Watson. "Let's hope that the Canadian courts will teach her a lesson. She may be a celebrity poacher but she is still a poacher nonetheless."
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